Esmé Patterson at Tractor Tavern 01/15/15

Esme Patterson.

A little delay in my travel to the Tractor Tavern Thursday night with some incident blockage in the 99 Battery Street Tunnel, but lo and behold my determination to get to the show lead me to follow a few other rogue cars backwards down a one-way on ramp. I guess those are just the type of lengths you’ll go to for love, and I’m sure in love with folk singin’ women like Esmé Patterson.

I first heard Esmé Patterson earlier this year on some tracks with Shakey Graves, and was awestruck captivated by her singing. I instantly fell in love with her voice, which flows with such elegance and grace all while managing a fun loving energy throughout. In seeing her live at the Tractor I was able to see and appreciate another dimension to her as a musician, her stage performance and guitar riffin’ (turned up the rockin’ a little more than expected on a few tracks). Just her and her guitar, a glass a whiskey, and a drummer was all that was physically present, but the depth and intimacy to her performance felt like so much more.

Esmé held that special type of personal presence and connection on stage. One that invited you in, made you want to hang out with her, and gave you a sense that she’s just one of those people that lives life light heartedly, happy, and appreciative of the opportunity and journey that she’s been on. All this while playing some damn good tunes.

This gal is just so talented in a longitudinal array of gifts as a musician. Give her a listen and get out to see her live if you get the chance.

Top 10 Albums of 2014

Augustines Album Cover
1. Augustines: Self-Titled
2. Strand of Oaks: Heal
3. Fanfarlo: Let’s Go Extinct
4. Vance Joy: Dream Your Life Away
5. Perfume Genius: Too Bright
6. Hurray for the Riff Raff: Small Town Heroes
7. Lykke Li: I Never Learn
8. Highasakite: Silent Treatment
9. Shakey Graves: And the War Came
10. The War on Drugs: Lost in the Dream

Song of the Day: “How We Be” by Sinkane


Wow what a jam! that real real shit…fresh beat, killer vocals…can’t help but fill the soul with an electrifying groove like this.

Featured Artist: Hurray For The Riff Raff

Hurray For The Riff Raff

Just another day, just another female folk crush to add to the mix. Really digging on these tunes…

A Look Inside: Interview with Tim Williams of Soft Swells

Soft Swells

photo by Dylan Bell

Your music seems to draw from many themes from different eras: some rockabilly, surf rock, alternative, to modern indie, folk, electronic synth pop. What would you say is at the core of your music and where do you guys draw a lot of your inspiration from?
I think we draw our inspiration most immediately from Los Angeles and Southern California. It’s such an interesting mix between the city vibe and surf culture that it’s hard not to write about it.

I love how you guys can play the same song through a multitude of channels, from polished and produced to stripped down and raw. What’s the ideal tension to hold between the two and how have you done it?
All the songs start off on an acoustic guitar when I write them so it’s very natural to go back to the initial idea. I love how the music transforms itself in the studio so when we play stripped down versions now we pepper in a few more things from the final version.

What was the vision for the recent release of Floodlights and how does it fit into the Soft Swells catalog?

The vision for this record was to steer away from synth rock a bit and go for more warm live band sounds. I know it has shocked a few people that really liked the first record but definitely think the change is super exciting, especially for me personally.

What’s it like trying to do what you do in LA, what would you tell other bands on their journey down there is key to not getting lost?
We honestly don’t pay attention to what anyone else does musically in LA. I think that is the key to longevity in a band. Go your own road and hope others will join. I would tell other bands not to see music as competition – and from there make your own path.

To date what’s the most intriguing/obscure/interesting story to tell from your current tour?
So there’s this road block in Sierra Blanca TX that’s apparently pretty famous for stopping and detaining bands on tour for having things in their pocket that are okay in CA, but not so much in TX (a quick Google search will direct you to a few stories about Willy Nelson, Fiona Apple, Nelly and others). Unfortunately we did not know about this evil gateway, and ended up having to go on for a couple days without our bass player. Hopefully we at least get to be included in the stories and infamy, but at the very least we got our bass player back unscathed (for the most part) and didn’t have to cancel any of the tour – RAWK & ROLL!!!

Album Droppin’ Tuesday: Hozier, Shakey Graves, Broods, Field Report, The Barr Brothers, Zola Jesus, Caribou

Album Droppin' Tuesday 10-7-14

So it’s taken me the full week to absorb the mass amount of music dropped this week…

Hozier – Hozier

Shakey Graves – And The War Came

Broods – Evergreeen

Field Report – Marigolden

The Barr Brothers – Sleeping Operator

Zola Jesus – Taiga

Caribou – Our Love

A Look Inside: Interview with Christopher Denny


photo by Andrew Hansen

I had the chance to sit down on a pile of pallets with Christopher Denny out back the Tractor Tavern before he took the stage a few nights back. A truly open and honest dude with his heart on his sleeve. He’s definitely endured more than his fair share of struggles along the way, but seems to take on each day one at a time with a dedication and passion for playing music.

His Unique Style
It’s hard not to recognize the unique voice that Christopher has. It’s very distinctive and there’s just something about it that holds an old soul to it. “Finding yourself is hard because its not who you thought you were gonna be. Being different isn’t something you go around talking about. I felt good when people told me I was different, but I didn’t know or think that it’d make me feel better about myself, but it did. I think any type of attention has always been good. You turn on the radio and hear so many of the same things, and from an early age I’ve always enjoyed anything that makes you turn you head or turn it up because it’s different, otherwise it just gets old real quick.”

I asked Christopher where his style stems from and where he drew inspiration from. “I grew up (in Little Rock, Arkansas) listening to 80’s radio with my mom, my dad was a southern rock guy, but my grandma was who I was always around and really got me into music and then my grandpa too. Old country, gospel, my grandma would get me into these quartets, we use to go see Jimmie Davis when he was like 80 years old. The first time I heard Nashville Skyline (Bob Dylan) it was really like whoa, and then the first time I heard Jeff Buckley I was like ‘I don’t like this’ and then I couldn’t stop listening to it and it became a real changing moment.”

“We moved away from Austin, and we really wanted to move up to Pennsylvania. Before we left, we went on this little tour, and it was my first tour back in years, and I’m considering this tour (now) my ‘first’ tour back because that one was just so bad, it was humbling. It’s been a deep dark valley, it’s been tough, really tough, I’m having to remember why I want to do this, but then I got on this tour. After rolling down the road in a tin can which can be beautiful and miserable, you get to the show, your nervous as fuck, you start playing and realize it’s a good deal. You get fulfilled, the crowds boost you up, and the crowds have been really good on this tour, they’ve been really supportive of me as an opener. I’m just getting back to where I’m use to being back on stage again, I wish I had some great story for you, I use to have a bunch of them, but they were drug driven.” I asked Christopher if Tour was kind of his rehab, he said it wasn’t so much his rehab as his new addiction to get him through.

The Record
“So much of this has been so many years, where I’m at right now with it is what I’ll talk about, but the path to it, it’s sort of treacherous and painful. But I will say that I’m loving the record (If the Roses Don’t Kill Us), and the more I hear about it, and I’ve read some things that people have written about it, the happier I am with the way we made it. I honestly don’t know how I feel completely, the path was a lot of pain, my father died, my mom’s been in rehab and jail like 5 or 6 times, I went through heroin and methadone, and feeling like the record label were my mortal enemies, and then realizing that they cared. I had to deal with the fact that I’m kind of insane in that I can think someone is out to get me when they’re not. I’ve gotten on some meds for my depression, and realizing that since I’ve been on those, I haven’t just left people, or not paid my rent, and ended up on the street, and that this whole time I really needed that stuff. Also realizing that I’m a little bit broken, wearing sleeves sometimes because I’m embarrassed, and then letting it all hang out, I’ve got scars and a whole lot more on the inside than the outside.”

Christopher talked a bit about the high-caliber talent that was brought in on the record. “My friend PJ Herrington was the manager, and he said ‘I’m gonna put some people together’ and I said ‘I’m just gonna trust ya’ and he got Dave Sanger to produce it (Asleep at the Wheel). Then they just started pulling folks in, and it just happens, you bring real players and you’re good to go. I had a moment when I was playing with Glen Fukunaga (bass – Dixie Chicks & Robert Plant) and he was just so in the pocket, I actually thought he was off, but actually he was just so on. There was also this moment where I was playing these little leads on ‘Radio’ and he just looked over and was looking at me like that’s fucking tasty, and I was just thinking this is awesome. It was cool, this guy’s looking over at me, I’m doing my thing, this guy’s played with some of the best players in the world, and he’s looking over at me and it’s not my voice that he cares about, I’m playing guitar and he’s appreciating it. I didn’t feel like I had to have so much control (on the record) and in doing so I got so much more than I could have asked for.”

The Northwest
Aside from a little bit of time in Twin Falls, ID this was pretty much Christopher’s first time through the Northwest. I asked him a bit about what he thought. “I tell you what, beautiful coming in, those mountains out there, that is gorgeous. Then when you get up here, it’s scary for me to be kind of locked in, sort of like when I’m in Brooklyn, I feel kind of trapped, but you know I’ve realized how small I am, and I can get through all this shit.”


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